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The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has ordered international shipping lines to implement a minimum free time period of eight days for cargoes unloaded from date of discharge at any port in the Philippines.

DOTr Department Order (DO) No. 2020-009, dated June 24 and signed by Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade, cited the “heightened” surcharges of international shipping lines during the coronavirus virus (COVID-19) pandemic, specifically charges on demurrage and detention, as one of the premises for the new ruling.

Also cited was Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolution No. 46, which approved DOTr’s recommendation on the minimum eight days free time period.

Free time, according to DO 2020-009, “refers to the period of time, reckoned from the discharge of cargoes from the ship to the port, offered by the shipping line to the consignee free of charge, covering both demurrage period and detention period, beyond which additional charges such as, but not limited to demurrage and detention charges, will be due to the shipping lines.”

It added, “For cargoes/shipments discharged during the implementation of enhanced and modified community quarantine, and prior to the effectivity of this Department Order, international shipping lines are enjoined to apply this 8 days free time.”

PortCalls is still awaiting comments about the order from the Association of International Shipping Lines, the national organization of international shipping lines in the Philippines.

Shippers seek presidential assist

The Port Users Confederation of the Philippines, Inc. (PUCP), in a letter sent to the Office of the President earlier this month, sought “urgent presidential action” on port and shipping charges being imposed by foreign shipping lines as well as PPA.

PUCP said “these crushing fees would compound already heavy burdens faced by businesses struggling to cope with global and domestic economic woes” and “put at grave risk the tens of thousands of jobs in these recession-stricken enterprises.”

In addition, PUCP expressed concerns over PPA’s continued imposition of storage charges and penalties, as provided under PPA Memorandum Circulars No. 12-2014 (Approved New Storage Rates for Overstaying Foreign Inbound Containers) and 13-2014 (Clarification on PPA Memorandum Circular No. 12-2014).

The group urged the suspension of implementation of the two PPA orders during the pandemic, and to extend the free storage period from five days to 10 days. – Roumina Pablo

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